Crist tours IRSC public safety complex, lauds college's work

Thursday, March 18, 2010

FORT PIERCE — Florida governor and U.S. Senate candidate Charlie Crist toured the Treasure Coast Public Safety Training Complex at Indian River State College Thursday, shooting a tight pattern on its firing range and praising the school’s effort to train workers for tomorrow’s jobs.

"I had no idea this college was offering the level of academic opportunities that they are,” Crist said after IRSC President Edwin Massey led the governor’s entourage through parts of the year-old, eight-building complex. It is used to train firefighters, paramedics, emergency managers, paralegals and law enforcement officers.

The governor visited a room in which computer-generated scenarios train police to properly fire weapons. He watched as three studio walls surrounding law enforcement student Jesse Harris of Vero Beach came alive as a virtual biker bar in which a disgruntled patron drew a pistol.

Crist also watched from above as members of a SWAT team entered a specially designed tactical training building, covering each other with drawn weapons firing blank cartridges.

"I hear you have target practice here,” Crist mentioned to Massey, who took him to the school’s indoor firing range. There, high-liability instructor and range master Luis Gomez armed the governor with a Glock 9 mm semi-automatic pistol and stood him seven yards in front of a human profile target.

The first 11 rounds Crist fired hit all over two targets. But then the governor removed a pair of shooting glasses Gomez had given him to wear and immediately grouped the last nine rounds in a tight pattern over a profile target’s torso.

Massey said he hoped Crist’s visit would help remind the Legislature that Florida’s community colleges are a smart investment right now.

"We have about 80,000 students who have come into the system during these hard economic times,” Massey said. "People are laid off and many of those jobs aren’t coming back.

"They want access to retraining and can’t afford to go to school away from home,” he added. "We are hoping for the funding to provide them with that educational access.”
Courtesy of TCPalm - James Kirley